Is Suicide the Unforgivable Sin?
A few years ago, a Christian I knew ended his life prematurely. It was sudden, tragic, and devastating to all of us—but especially to his family. Sometimes it’s hard for any of us to believe that people could do this to themselves and to their families, but the reality is that any of us could venture down this dark road.
It may not seem to take much either. A traumatic event, a life change such as mental illness or a death in the family, a series of bad experiences, or a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes severe depression—all of these things can lead us down into the valley of death’s shadow.
In such moments of weakness, suicide is more than possible. Is there any hope for the family or friends of a believer who has committed suicide? Does the Bible teach that suicide is the unforgivable sin? Many people respond to this question with a simple ‘yes.’ They will say that suicide allows for no repentance of the sin committed and therefore is an unpardonable sin.
Although it is true that a person who has committed suicide cannot repent of the sin, it is not true that the Bible teaches suicide is an unforgivable sin. The Bible never teaches this.
Some have tried to use Mark 3:20–35 as a passage in the Bible that equates suicide with the ‘unforgivable sin’ of blaspheming the Holy Spirit; however, this is simply an incorrect interpretation. The specific unforgivable sin Jesus has in mind is not suicide, but rather associating the Holy Spirit with the work of Satan.
Suicide is mentioned only six times in the whole Bible, but when it is mentioned there is no moral evaluation given as to whether it is right or wrong (Editor: the 6th commandment provides the moral evaluation): 1. Abimelech (Judg. 9:50–57); 2. Samson (Judg. 16:28–30); 3. Saul (1 Sam. 31:1–6; 2 Sam. 1:1–15; 1 Chron. 10:1–13); 4. Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23); 5. Zimri (1 Kings 16:18–19); and 6. Judas Iscariot (Matt. 27:5; Acts 1:18–20). In fact, the clear and consistent message of the Bible is the complete and full forgiveness of sins (past, present, and future—known sin and unknown sin) through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Repentance itself does not seal us into the heavenly kingdom—the Holy Spirit has given us such a seal (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). Although confessing our sins before God does increase our fellowship with him, it does not seal us any more than we have already been by the blood of the lamb.
Additionally, who will really have the time to confess every single sin before we die? Some of us will die instantly, without warning. Others may slowly die, but even then—after we confess as many sins as we can think of—there are still sins that we have committed against God and our neighbor that we aren’t even aware of! So the usual reason given for suicide being an unforgivable sin doesn’t seem to hold up to the Bible or experience.
Suicide is certainly a sin—because it robs a person of the sanctity of life and the full time given to them by God alone. Family and friends of a believer who has committed suicide should never worry about whether their loved one is in heaven. Thankfully, even suicide is not greater than the body and blood of Jesus—broken and shed for the forgiveness of all our sins.
Nicholas Davis is lead pastor of Redemption Church (PCA) in San Diego, California.
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